The Bricks is the sixth new pizzeria Metro Times has reviewed this year, so perhaps we didn't have quite the same level of anticipation that we usually do for new restaurants when it opened this summer. Not for anything it did or didn't do — it was just another new pizzeria.
But, it turns out, there's room for this new pizzeria.
The Bricks does Neapolitan-style pies that seem to be all the rage these days, and executive chef Trenton Chamberlain's thin, sourdough crust is crispy on the bottom and soft, light, and slightly chewy inside. Chamberlain uses organic red wheat grown on Michigan's Ferris Farms, and the flour is then milled in-house. The 60-hour dough-making process begins with The Bricks' own sourdough starter, and Chamberlain's dough holds a higher hydration level that helps keep the crust light. Each pie spends about four minutes in the oak wood-fired dome oven, leaving the crust with the perfect level of char.
Its sour flavor is a pleasant static in the background of each bite of pie, and it helps tie everything together. See that effect in the bacon and pepperoncini pizza: The bacon's smoke and salt, the extra acidity from the pepperoncini, the sour crust, and a thick layer of cheese all work together beautifully. Chamberlain's sauce is made with chopped basil and is a little mineral-y from the addition of sea salt.
The Bricks takes the farm-to-table concept a step further — it actually owns the farm from which it sources many of its ingredients. Chamberlain pulls tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, thyme, parsley, arugula, sunchokes, beets, eggs, honey, and more throughout the year from Fox Hollow Farm in Metamora.
Some of those are on display in the excellent Fox Hollow Farm egg pizza with red sauce, mozzarella, pancetta, red onion, and a fried egg that's dusted with dried Hungarian pepper from Detour spices. The gooey egg yolk mixes well with the salty, fatty pancetta — essentially Italian bacon — and red onion. Once again, it's the salt-acid-smoke combination over the sour background that makes it.
The mushroom pizza comes with portobello, shiitake, and buttons that are roasted in olive oil before being baked on the pie, and the package is covered in a layer of fresh green arugula. That umami-heavy package over the crust's sour flavor that's always in the background — excellent. The pies' price point is high — $15 for a 10-incher is top tier — but it's ultimately worth it.
The Bricks' bucatini comes with red sauce and long pasta that traditionally has a hole in the middle, though in this case it's more of a half circle. Bucatini is thicker than most noodles, which gives it an interesting texture and provides more surface space for sauce-sopping. Ordering it with three big, tasty meatballs for $6 more is a good move.
The moist and smokey whitefish rillettes are similar to a pate and made with aioli, olive oil, herbs, dijon, and lemon juice, and duck egg yolk. It's not as smooth as a pate, but it's lighter and brighter than most and is served with an excellent sour flatbread that's the perfect scooping tool. It's one of two whitefish dishes — the other is a hearty Michigan smoked whitefish chowder — which is slightly unusual for a pizzeria, but a nice addition. Chamberlain says that's an homage to a chef under whom he trained in Nantucket.
Prior to the pies, the antipasto salad came with a fine champagne vinegar dressing, mixed greens, Creminelli salami, Peppadew peppers, castelvetrano olives, artichoke hearts, and parmesan cheese. A solid version of a classic.
I missed the house-made gelato on the dessert menu but definitely won't on the next trip. The craft cocktail list and beer selection at the full bar are what it should be in 2019.
So how does the pizzeria stack up? Michigan is effectively a giant pizza at this point, but The Bricks has some of its best bites.
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